Champions League MD 1 Preview

The premier European tournament is back!

Group A

Club Brugge vs. Galatasaray

The first game from group as comes to us from Belgium as Club Brugge entertain Galatasaray. Brugge finished 2nd in the Belgian Pro League last season and have worked hard to get through qualifiers to be here. Galatasaray won the Turkish Super Lig last season and this season they sit 5th in the table having won 2 lost 1 and drawn 1. Brugge are currently 2nd in their league having won 4 and drawn 2. The teams are in good form although Galatasaray probably have more famous players in Falcao, Emre Mor, Babel etc. Last season Brugge finished 3rd in Group A and then lost to Napoli in the Round of 32 of the Europa League. Galatasaray had a similar story and lost to Benfica in the Europa League Round of 32. Upsets are part of football but in a group with Real Madrid and PSG one would expect Brugge and Galatasaray to be fighting it out for the Europa League spot.

Paris Saint Germain vs. Real Madrid

Last seasons Ligue 1 champions take on Real Madrid who struggled to finish 3rd in La Liga last season. After a shaky start to this season PSG have flown back up to the top of the table even with Mbappe, and Cavani out injured. PSG won their group last season but lost to Manchester United in poor circumstances in the Round of 16. Real Madrid also won their group but lost to Ajax in the Round of 16. Neymar came back for his first game during the weekend and scored the winner but he will need to do much more to win back Parisien hearts after his public push to move to Barcelona. Real Madrid sit 3rd in La Liga having drawn 2 and won 2. Hazard made his debut for the club this weekend as the team looked much better with him on the pitch. Benzema is firing on all cylinders but the defence is still a major problem and as of now one can always sense that Real Madrid can lose. These teams should be fighting it out for 1st and 2nd although it will be a close game. 

Group B

Bayern Munich vs. Red Star Belgrade

Last seasons Bundesliga champions Bayern entertain last seasons undefeated Serbain Superliga champions in Red Star Belgrade. Last season Bayern won their group but lost o Liverpool in the Round of 16, while Red Star finished bottom of their group. Bayern have had a shaky start this season as they sit 4th after 4 games. Red Star have won 6 out of 6 as they sit 3rd with 2 games in hand. In all honesty it should be an easy game for Bayern with Red Star most likely looking at a potential Europa League spot. 

Olympiakos vs. Tottenham

Olympiakos finished 2nd in the Greek League last season and got knocked out in the Europa League Round of 32 as they entertain last seasons Champions League finalists in Tottenham who finished 4th in the Premier League last season. Olympiakos have won 3 out 3 this season as they sit top of the table while Tottenham are currently 3rd having won 2 drawn 2 and lost 1. On paper Tottenham should be fighting it out for 1st and 2nd but they have had a shaky start to the season. The return of Son has been a good sign but an away trip to Greece is always tough. 

Group C

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Atalanta

Dinamo Zagreb won the Croatian League last season but lost to Benfica in the Europa League Round of 16, currently they sit 2nd in their league having won 5 drawn 1 and lost 1. Atalanta finished 3rd in the Serie A last season as they enter this season’s Champions League as one of the fresh faces, currently they sit 6th in Serie A having won 2 and lost 1. With the clear favourites for this group being Man City the 2nd and 3rd place spots are ripe for the taking for both teams and Shakhtar. This should be an interesting group to keep an eye on. 

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Man City

Last seasons Ukrainian Champions Shakhtar finished 3rd in their group last season but lost to Frankfurt in the Europa League Round of 32, currently they sit top of their league having won 7 out of 7. Man City won the Premier League last season and sit 2nd this season having won 3 drawn 1 and lost 1. Last season City lost to Tottenham in the quarter finals and they will have to endure a shaky start this season with Laporte out until the New Year. City on paper should have enough but as we saw Norwich beat them at the weekend against all odds and so an away trip to Ukraine should be a tough task. 

Group D

Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus

The two favourites for the group go head to head as last seasons Serie A champions Juventus travel to Atletico Madrid who finished 2nd in La Liga last season. Juventus beat Atletico in last seasons Round of 16 and so this should be a tasty fixture for both teams. Atletico sit 2nd in La Liga having won 3 and lost 1 and strengthened heavily over the summer with Joao Felix being the eye catching signing. Juventus are currently 3rd having won 2 and drawn 1 as Maurizio Sarri begins to implement his playing style on the club. Juventus have several injuries to contend with going into this fixture but when Ronaldo is there anything can happen. These two teams should fight it out for 1st and 2nd. 

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Lokomotiv Moskva

Leverkusen finished 4th in the Bundesliga last season and lost to Krasnodar in the Europa League Round of 32 as they entertain Lokomotiv who finished 2nd in Russia last season and 4th in the Champions League. Currently Leverkusen are 8th having won 2 drawn 1 and lost 1 while Lokomotiv are 4th having won 5 drawn 2 and lost 2. These two teams will most likely be fighting it out for a Europa League spot and on paper Leverkusen should be the clear favourites. 

Group E

Red Bull Salzburg vs. Genk

Salzburg were Austrian champions last season and lost to Napoli in the Europa League round of 16 a team that also happens to be in this group. Genk were Belgian champions league season but lost to Slavia Prague in the Europa League round of 32. Salzburg are again leading the Austrian league this season having won 7 out of 7 games while Genk are 9th in Belgian having won 3 drawn 1 and lost 3. Genk are struggling domestically and so this should be a tough fixture for them but these two teams are going to be fighting it out for 3rd in a group that has Liverpool and Napoli. 

Napoli vs. Liverpool

Napoli finished 2nd in Serie A last season and 3rd in their group which also contained Liverpool, eventually they lost to Arsenal in the Europa League quarter-finals. Liverpool finished 2nd in the Premier League last season after an high octane race with City, the silver lining for Liverpool was that they won the Champions League beating Spurs. Napoli currently sit 5th in Serie A having won 2 and lost 1 while Liverpool sit comfortable at the top of the Premier League having won all 5 of their games. Napoli are in a shaky situation at the moment and Liverpool will be looking to draw first blood in Italy. 

Group F

Borussia Dortmund vs. Barcelona

One of the tough groups as last seasons Bundesliga runner ups Dortmund face off against La Liga champions Barcelona. Dortmund lost to Tottenham in the round of 16 last year while Barcelona lost to Liverpool in the semi’s in what was a memorable comeback at Anfield. Barcelona have been extremely poor in the latter stages of the Champions League for the past two seasons and find themselves in a group with Dortmund and Inter who have both strengthened over the summer. Barcelona have brought in the likes of Griezmann but Suarez and Messi are yet to feature for the club this season. Dortmund have made numerous signings as they sit 2nd in Bundesliga having won 3 and lost 1. Barcelona are 5th in La Liga having won 2 drawn 1 and lost 1. A tough trip for Barca especially if Messi and Suarez are not available as these two teams an Inter will be fighting it out for the first two spots. 

Inter Milan vs. Slavia Praha

Inter just about finished 4th in Serie A last season and lost to Frankfurt in the Europa League round of 16 as well. Slavia Praha won the Czech League last season and lost to Chelsea in the Europa League quarter finals. Over the summer Inter had a big reshuffle bringing in Antonio Conte and the likes of Barella, Lukaku and Sanchez as signings. The investment has paid of so far with Inter top of Serie A with 3 wins out of 3. Slavia also lead the Czech league having won 7 games and drawn 2. Inter are fighting it out with Barca and Dortmund for the top 3 spots and so as much as Slavia Praha hope that they can pull of a miracle as of now they are probably going to finish 4th. 

Group G

Benfica vs. RB Leipzig

Benfica won the Portuguese league last season and lost to Frankfurt in the Europa League round of 16 while Leipzig finished 3rd in the Bundesliga last season and got knocked out in the group stage of the Europa League. Currently Benfica sit 2nd domestically having won 4 and lost 1 of their games. Leipzig are top of Bundesliga having won 3 and drawn 1 of their games. This group contains Lyon and Zenit and so it is one of the toughest groups in these years competition. There will be tough games all around and it will be a real fight to reach the knockout stage and the Europa League for either of the teams. 

Olympique Lyon vs. Zenit

Lyon finished 3rd in Ligue 1 last season and lost to Barcelona in the Round of 16 of last years Champions League. Zenit were Russian champions last season but lost to Villareal in the Europa League round of 16. Currently Lyon are 8th in the league having won 2 drawn 2 and lost 1 while Zenit are 2nd in Russia having won 6 drawn 2 and lost 1. This group is going to be tough for all four teams and it is too hard to call who will progress to the latter stages and who will make Europa. 

Group H

Ajax vs. Lille

Ajax won the Eredivisie last season and enjoyed a brilliant run in the Champions League as they lost to Tottenham in the semi’s having beaten the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid. Their team has lost several of the key players with De Jong, De Ligt being the major departures. Lille finished 2nd in Ligue 1 last season and are playing their first season of Champions League football since the time they won Ligue 1 with Hazard and co. Ajax are top of their league at the moment having won 4 and drawn 1 while Lille are 5th having won 3 and lost 2. Lille have a strong setup while people will be looking at Ajax to see whether they can replicate last season’s exploits having lost so many key players. In a group that also contains Chelsea and Valencia it is another one that is too close to call and the top 3 position are all open for interpretation.

 

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